To be Honest…with Madelyn Comeau

To be honest, I feel like our world has become a place of negativity and hatred stemming from our individualistic culture. When was the last time you turned on the news and didn’t see five year olds being shot, African Americans wrongly persecuted, cops being scrutinized, ISIS threatening global security and NFL players protesting against social injustice? These are all issues that, as a nation, we need to fix, quickly. American culture, compared to most cultures around the world, is focused on the individual as opposed to society. Most Asian, African and Hispanic cultures believe strongly in family dynamics and community values. They take pride in caring for the elderly and others in their community. I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico with my family last December, and seeing the community interaction left me in awe. Total strangers would go out of their way to acknowledge and show compassion to others. I had never in my life seen that same level of interaction in America. Here people act exasperated when you take too long in the grocery store checkout line. Seeing another level of compassion got me wondering what would happen if, as Americans, we incorporated more compassion and a greater sense of community into our society.

Sadly, any significant societal changes we seem to make are trumped by injustice. For example, now same-sex couples can marry legally in every state, and the LGBT community has made great advancements. People are far more accepting than they were even a decade ago. However, we still see intolerance and terrorism like the Orlando shootings. We would all love to think that the LBGTQ+ community are a minority group that have fully achieved acceptance, but events like Orlando shine a negative light on any positive work we have made as a society. If, as a society, we let the negative setbacks outweigh all the things we’ve done right to help others, then we constantly undermine all the good we have accomplished. We are all aware of the hard issues we need to face, but let us not forget the good that is riddled throughout the world and in front of us everyday. We need to fix our perspective to fix our society.

Our individualistic society is engendering an underlying selfishness in our culture. Most of us see events that occur on the news and are able to comprehend the sadness of that particular situation, but often when events have no real direct impact on our lives we don’t think we have the power to change it. If we come together to form stronger community bonds, then we shift the negative energies that surround us everyday. Take the Ferguson shooting and riots as a prime example. Instead of burning buildings in protest, if the Ferguson community maybe felt support from other local communities they could begin to make changes within the local justice system. If, as a society. we want to change norms and social injustice, let’s band together to change our local communities and work our way up. Therefore, it’s even more important that we work together as a community composed of individuals with the same purpose.

Individualism is important and an essential part of American culture. However, as a society the emphasis we have put on the individual over society has caused a “hands-off” approach to solving issues. There are many communities that work towards furthering what they believe in, but not enough. We are too intelligent and powerful as Americans to not be fixing more issues than we are currently. It’s time to stop blaming others for injustice and start coming together to build more compassionate communities. Let’s fight the hate and injustice with love, because if we do, tomorrow will be a much brighter day.

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